Monday, February 8, 2010

What Happened?

Here's a mystery for you - what happened to my beans?

I loaded up the crock pot with all kinds of lovely ingredients such as pinto beans, chopped tomatoes (a good canned brand), onions, garlic, beef broth and jalapeƱo sauce, set the temperature to low and left it to bubble away all day.

I expected to have these beans as part of a dinner using the last of Chilebrown's tamales, which I had thawed that day.

These are the very same pinto beans I used successfully to make refritos about a week ago but this time they wouldn't cook. After simmering all day, the beans were nearly as hard and mealy as when I put them in. So, I improvised a substitute for dinner and left the beans to simmer all night long figuring they just needed more time.

Well, they got plenty of time - all night and all the next day and still they were mealy, not softly yielding as one would expect. I kept tasting and adding liquid, hoping to resurrect them, but no dice! I finally threw them out. I hate wasting food but they were truly inedible.

So, what happened to my beans? Maybe someone out there can give me a lesson in cooking beans in a crock pot?

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Blogger Greg said...

I have read that you should not add salt or acidic items until beans are cooked soft.Some kind of chemical reaction.

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

It was the tomatoes. I had that happen once, because I blithely thought it would be smart to cook the tomatoes with the beans. It doesn't work. (Salt is OK, though, Greg, despite what you've heard.) Also, beans love some fat. We usually spoon in some bacon grease.
So sorry about your loss. Crock pots ARE good for bean cooking; they closely resemble the New England bean pot in the oven.
OK, here's what Cranky does: He presoaks the beans, and he puts boiling water in the crock pot, so it doesn't have to struggle back up to temperature. Soaked beans go in the hot water with all the other good stuff, but tomatoes have to go in after the beans are cooked. Mostly cooked.

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, I had heard that, too, so didn't add any salt... rats!

Cookiecrumb, aha! I was blithe, too. Pride goeth before a fall, eh? I didn't pre-soak or even do the 10-minute hot soak thing. I did add about a TBS of bacon fat to add taste. They were inedible, anyway. :-( I'll know better next time - thanks!

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger kudzu said...

Zoomie -- Cookie's right about the temperature of the water. The authority I consult says to cook (soaked) beans on high 2-3 hours, making sure they remain covered with liquid, then turn heat to low and cook 6-8 hours (you won't have to watch the liquid during low-heat cooking). She said that if you do it on low the whole time it might take as long as 16-20 hours and they still might not cook properly!!..Greg and Cookie are both right about the tomatoes.

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: It's going to depend on the beans. We've never had to cook them for more than five hours, but I guess we have fresh, tender, local beans. Cranky adds that he simmers the beans with the boiling water on the stove before he dumps them in crock pot. Oh, and we always cook on high, not low. Because we don't have jobs. And slow cookers vary.

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

With pressure cookers you don't have to pre-soak. AND it only takes 20 minutes or so!

Monday, February 08, 2010  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Kudzu, thanks for your observations. I think I skipped the all-important soaking step.

Cookiecrumb, I gather you can skip the soaking step if you first bring them briefly to a boil. I'll try that next. And leave out the tomatoes until the beans have softened.

Morgan, I used to have a pressure cooker but gave it away - scary! But, I understand they are now easier to use so I might go looking for one.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010  

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